1. the impeaching of a public official before an appropriate tribunal.
  2. (in Congress or a state legislature) the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house.
  3. demonstration that a witness is less worthy of belief.
  4. the act of impeaching.
  5. the state of being impeached.


  1. rare (in England) committal by the House of Commons, esp of a minister of the Crown, for trial by the House of Lords. The last instance occurred in 1805
  2. (in the US) a proceeding brought against a federal government official
  3. an accusation or charge
  4. obsolete discredit; reproach

late 14c., enpechement “accusation, charge,” from Old French empechement, from empeechier (see impeach). As a judicial proceeding against a public official, from 1640s.

A formal accusation of wrongdoing against a public official. According to the United States Constitution, the House of Representatives can vote to impeach an official, but the Senate actually tries the case. Several presidencies have been blemished by impeachment or the threat of impeachment: President Andrew Johnson was impeached after the Civil War but was acquitted. President Richard Nixon resigned from office as the House of Representatives prepared to initiate impeachment proceedings. President William Jefferson Clinton was impeached in 1998 but was acquitted by the Senate the following year.

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